Rick and Mondays – S2 E7 “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez”

We have two cosmetic plots which our minds mistake for thematic in this episode. Also, vampires are real.

SUMMARY

At breakfast, Morty (Justin Roiland) mentions that a lunch lady at his school was exsanguinated by two holes in her neck. Rick (Roiland) points out that it was probably a vampire, something that Summer (Spencer Grammer) is surprised to find out are real. She suggests that Rick transfer his mind into a teenage body so that he can help them find and kill the vampire, something that Rick angrily condemns. Beth (Sarah Chalke) tells Jerry (Chris Parnell) to support his daughter, only for Jerry to be revealed not to be paying attention, leading to a fight. Rick, still crotchety, tells them to fix their marriage or get a divorce. They respond that they’ve tried to do therapy, which Rick derides as “Earth therapy” and then tells them he’ll take them to a therapy center on an alien planet. Rick takes them both, still bickering, to the planet while Summer makes stakes for Buffy-ing.

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Brain the size of a universe and he still can’t deal with this noise.

On the therapy planet, it’s revealed that a key part of the therapy is generating physical representations of how each partner views the other one. Jerry’s vision of Beth is as a Xenomorph-esque monster, while Beth’s vision of Jerry is a weak, worm like version who wants to offer his servitude and sexual favors in exchange for safety. Both of them are pissed at the other for these images, but Glexo Slim Slom (Jim Rash), the head couples’ counselor, tells them both that this is normal and part of the process. He takes Beth and Jerry, along with a number of other couples, through observations of the battles between the monsters generated by the couples, using it as a metaphor for how we envision our partner differently than they actually are. Unseen, Beth’s “Mytholog” communicates with Jerry’s and starts to cover her body with a layer of Jerry’s Mytholog’s blood.

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I don’t know biology, but four boobs seems like the wrong number.

Back on Earth, Rick appears at school in a teenage body, calling himself “Tiny Rick.” He quickly assists the kids in killing “Coach Feratu,” the vampire at the school. Rick’s about to put his mind back into his old body, but it turns out that Tiny Rick is fairly popular at the school and Summer’s crush Toby Matthews (Alex “I CREATED GRAVITY F*CKING FALLS AND AM MAGICAL” Hirsch) asks if he’ll be at a party later. Rick agrees to stay small for party purposes.

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He’s an old man in a kid’s body. They’re two vampire-slaying teens. This summer… the stakes have never been higher. Watch Rick and Morty in: Suck It, Vampires!

Beth and Jerry continue the therapy tour, only for it to appear that their Mythologs have escaped. It’s revealed that the Betholog camouflaged itself and escapes along with the Jerry Mytholog, both of them killing numerous people and rampaging throughout the facility. Glexo realizes what has happened and tells Beth and Jerry that their demons are actually co-dependant, making theirs the single worst marriage that he’s ever seen. He then abandons the two of them to die. Jerry finds a hiding spot, but Beth chooses to try to find a way out before she is abducted by Betholog. Jerry then manages to subdue his Mytholog, due to its blatant cowardice, and tells it to take him to Beth. Betholog tells her that she’s going to be used to produce an army of Jerry Mythologs to help her enslave the universe. Beth sarcastically points out that she should be trying to create more Bethologs, but the Betholog says that there can only be one of her, because she’s so much smarter and stronger than Beth because Jerry thinks Beth is so much stronger and smarter than she actually is.

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Beth meets her own worst… husband’s nightmare.

Back on Earth at the party, Tiny Rick sings a song that appears to be a cry for help from the older version of Rick trapped in a vat in the garage. At school, Tiny Rick continues to refuse to transfer his mind back into his original body. Summer complains, but Morty tells her to get her shit together. At the school dance, Rick sings a song that is clearly about being trapped in the garage. Summer gets him expelled by planting evidence that he killed Coach Feratu, which leads Rick to call her a psycho. Everyone then turns on Summer, having loved Tiny Rick. Tiny Rick goes to destroy his grown body, but Summer and Morty stop him by playing Elliot Smith, leading him to want to be back in his original body. He gets put back in and then destroys all of his clones, dubbing the experiment a failure. He then goes to pick up Beth and Jerry.

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Rick gets back-up dancers easily.

Jerry arrives with a gun to kill all of the Mythologs. Beth then thinks that Jerry is heroic, resulting in the machine cranking out first normal Jerrys, then muscular and heroic Jerrys. Jerry tries to save Beth, but is about to die, until he puts the Mytholog Maker on a heroic Jerry, leading to that version creating a literal Goddess Beth, who easily kills the Betholog. In the wreckage of the planet, Beth and Jerry reconcile as a nude, blood-covered Rick picks them up.

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Granted, even the ideal Beth resembles A) a doctor and B) a goddess of destruction.

END SUMMARY

This episode, much like “Meeseeks and Destroy,” benefits heavily from the cuts between the A and B plots. While in that episode it allowed us to perfectly split between two advancing plotlines by cutting all of the boring scenes out, in this one it (slightly imperfectly) allows us to do that while also masking the fact that the timeline for this episode seems rather uncertain and uneven. We know that the events of the Tiny Rick plot take at least 3 days, but Beth and Jerry’s therapy appears to go off the rails immediately. Did they just wander around hiding from monsters for 2 days, did the initial tour just take that long, or did the events of their trip play out and then they were waiting for Rick for a few days? Whatever, I didn’t really notice at the time, and I’m sure Dan Harmon has some justification for it. Either way, the fact that I didn’t notice is a credit to the editing.

The vampire is pretty much my favorite plot instigator in the series. It’s so random that vampires are real and that not only is Rick aware of it, but considers people stupid for NOT being aware of it. It’d be the same as the reveal that dragons are real being met with a disinterested “and?”  To cap that off, it’s quickly revealed, offscreen, to be Coach Feratu, the least subtle vampire name in history, and he’s dispatched apparently within a few hours. Somehow, apparently, Morty and Summer hadn’t immediately concluded it was the Coach from the beginning, however. That’s why it’s even better when they have the stinger at the end where the head vampire points out that Coach Feratu is a terrible name to hide under and tells them to pick generic names from now on.

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This guy definitely deserves to be in charge.

At the end of the episode, Jerry tries to connect the themes of the stories, but Rick just responds that the story connections are just cosmetic, not really thematic, which I guess is true. Rick’s story is more related to the fact that people are terrible at having perspective in High School and that accepting aging and the inevitability of death is part of life, while Beth’s and Jerry’s stories are more about how perception shapes relationships. There’s some stuff about how appearances reflect behavior in both stories, but not much more than that in common.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Everything in this episode happens because Rick’s pissed off at breakfast. Well, not the vampire attacks, those clearly are independent of the rest of the episode, but everything besides that. If you watch the opening to the episode, it’s apparent that Rick is even more crotchety than usual. He acts disdainful towards the family during the vampire discussion, yells at Summer for proposing the kind of hi-jinks that Rick himself usually would jump to, then flat-out tells Beth and Jerry to get a divorce or fix their marriage in a very angry tone. Now, Rick would probably do any of these things normally, but the way he does them in this episode still seems pretty extreme. But, after running Beth and Jerry to the therapy planet, Rick ends up turning himself young like Summer suggested. He says this is because he felt bad about how he treated Summer, but I don’t think that’s entirely it. I think there’s another reason why Rick is pissed and why he chooses the path that he does.

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Morty killed the Rabbichaun for this.

Anyone who has dealt with older people learns a horrifying fact about the eventual state of their body: You can’t keep eating all the crap you loved as a kid. Spicy food, greasy food, and especially ultra-sugary cereals will tear your insides up. And what is Morty eating for breakfast along with the hot food that his mother made for the family? Why, a delicious bowl of magical Strawberry Smiggles! Now, why do I think that Rick is upset by this? Well, admittedly, not much to go on, but it’s the one thing that Rick asks for that’s unrelated to any of the other conversation parts: The pepper. Every other time we see Rick eating breakfast in the series, he is fairly complimentary of the way that Beth prepares it, but this time we see him dissatisfied about the flavor. I think that’s Rick expressing his anger about not being able to do something because he’s too old. That’s why he does eventually decide to do the plan of making himself young again, even though it’s an overly-complicated solution to the vampire problem: Because that morning he really felt crappy about being old and wanted to get away from that for a few minutes. So, yeah, if Morty doesn’t pick the cereal, Rick probably isn’t as angry, and most of the stuff in the episode probably plays out differently.

NOW LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, I give this episode an

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 17: The Ricks Must Be Crazy

NEXT – 19: Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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Futurama Fridays – S2 E10 “A Clone of My Own”

We have an episode focused mostly on Professor Hubert Farnsworth and his attempt to secure his legacy.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) is brought up on academic charges by Mars University. However, after he begins an angry rant about blackmailing and ruining all of the other professors, it’s revealed that it’s really a surprise party for his 150th Birthday. The crew of Planet Express show him a video about his accomplishments, but it has the opposite effect, making him believe that his life has been a giant waste. Leela (Katey Sagal) tells him that at least he has 10 years left to live, revealing that all 160 year old people are forcibly retired by robots to live out their days in the mysterious “Near-Death Star.” The Professor decides to name a successor and elects his own clone, Cubert Farnsworth (Kath Soucie).

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He’s from a growth on the Professor’s back.

Cubert is released from the Clone-O-Mat and immediately starts getting on everyone’s nerves due to his habit of pointing out logical flaws in the way the business is run and criticizing all of the impossible science used in the show. The Professor tries to technobabble explanations for much of it, saying that the point of science is to make the impossible into the possible, but Cubert ends up telling him that he doesn’t want to be a scientist. This breaks the Professor’s heart and leads him to reveal that he is actually 160 years old and has alerted the Sunset Squad Robots to take him away.

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They have a pretty standard outfit.

The Crew uses the Smell-O-Scope to track down the Professor. At the Near-Death Star, Leela and Bender (John DiMaggio) impersonate robots and Fry (West) pretends to be the Professor while Cubert is his hump. They use Cubert’s blood to present a DNA sample from the Professor. It’s revealed that all of the old people are hooked into Matrix-esque virtual reality systems that simulate retirement homes. They are found out and flee until the ship’s engine is blasted. On the way out, Cubert is knocked unconscious and when he wakes up he now wishes to be an inventor, fixing the engines (which are revealed to not move the ship at all, but instead move THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE around the ship). The crew escapes and the Professor is happy to have a successor.

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Yes, this is the ship standing still.

END SUMMARY

This episode is a shot at bad fans, like all of the people out there who can’t just enjoy shows without trying to point out logical flaws in the science of the shows. As someone who does occasionally do that, I felt attacked, but as a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s opening lyric “If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes/ and other science facts/ just repeat to yourself/ it’s just a show / I should really just relax” I also accept that you should never let ancillary science issues distract from a good story. Suspend that disbelief, y’all.

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Bender, calmly explaining drama to the fans.

According to the commentary, Cubert was actually created before the show started airing and he was just going to be present throughout the series calling out scientific impossibilities in the show before the fans could start doing it. Given how his outlook changed by the end of the episode and that aspect of his personality seems to go to the wayside for the rest of the series, apparently they realized that was going to get annoying. Besides, they put in the obnoxious fan for an episode, that got the point across.

That said, I absolutely love the responses that the show gives for some of the science fiction elements. For example, faster-than-light travel is impossible, so scientists just decided to raise the speed of light to the point that you can still cross the galaxy in a few hours. This would naturally just raise even MORE issues about how the physics of this universe work, but it’s such a great example of technobabble. The final revelation of the episode is even more insane: The Professor’s engines somehow are MORE efficient because they choose to move the entire universe rather than the ship. However, the sequence in which they represent that looks freaking awesome, so all is forgiven.

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However, time travel is impossible… for another few episodes.

The concept of seniors being forcibly retired is present in a lot of science fiction, but I would imagine the most famous one is probably Logan’s Run, the sci-fi book which shows a world where everyone is executed on their 21st birthday and the movie adaptation where everyone is executed on their 30th. In the book, the “Sandmen” who collect the people who are set to die are depicted dressed in black and occasionally robed as reapers, like the Sunset Squad robots. In the movie, the Sandmen dress more like the other citizens in what the 1970s thought the future would look like, with black bodysuits. Given that they make other references in the series to that film, I’m guessing that this is what inspired the plotline of this episode.

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Yep, this is how we dress in the 2010s.

The episode as a whole is obviously about the conflict between generations. Cubert initially represents the rebellion children usually display against their parents who they feel are completely dissimilar, summarized by his great line “ I may be identical to you in every possible way but that doesn’t mean I’m anything like you.” At the end of the episode, however, Cubert does finally gain some insight into Professor Farnsworth’s personality, which ends up bridging the gap between the pair.

FAVORITE JOKE

Two small ones.

First, Cubert’s first line in the series is “What, you’ve never seen a genius’s weiner before?” to which Fry responds “well, once in the park.” The timing and absurdity of it, combined with the fact that this is a recurring character’s introduction, always makes me laugh.

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Second, the unbelievably dark joke that is the motto of Mars University. The university’s motto is “Knowledge Brings Fear.” On its surface, this is both true and also one of the worst observations about consciousness, because yeah, if we didn’t know about all the things that could happen to us that are bad, we’d never be afraid. But the real darkness is that this is a reference to another famous motto: “Work Brings Freedom.” Fans of the comic Maus will probably recognize that as being a translation of the phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which was featured above the entrance to Auschwitz. You’d think that they might not have known about this and it’s a coincidence, but 1) the way it’s displayed on Mars University is very similar to how it appeared at Auschwitz, 2) it’s a change from the original motto of Mars University (A Giant Pulsating Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste), and 3) the line before it was about saving Hitler’s brain. So, in essence, knowledge of an atrocity in the past brings forth the underlying reference to the joke and changes the meaning to something even darker and scarier… thus, Knowledge Brings Fear.

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Such a sunny reference.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 22: A Bicyclops Built for Two

NEXT – Episode 24: How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – The Good Place: Season 2

Already reviewed one episode of this season, but since they finally put it on Netflix, I’m going to go ahead and do the whole thing. Spoilers, I’m trying to do this so you can watch Season 3 when it comes up, even if you don’t want to catch up on the last two.

SUMMARY

Michael (Ted Danson) commences the reboot from the end of the last season, trying a new version of the original strategy to get Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) to torture each other for thousands of years. However, Eleanor placed a note in the mouth of Janet (D’Arcy Carden) at the end of last season, telling her to find Chidi, which quickly leads her to realize that she’s already been in this situation before. This leads to her figuring out that they’re in the Bad Place in a few days, rather than the months in the original run. Michael decides to just reboot them yet again, without the note, but has to conceal this from his boss, Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson), who told him he only had two chances. Unfortunately for Michael, it turns out that his plan is inherently flawed. Every time he reboots them, Eleanor still realizes that they’re in the Bad Place somehow (although, once, Jason realizes it, something that Michael admits “hurts”).

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Granted, Michael was stupid for trying to put a 3 hour Jazz Opera in. 

Over 800 attempts later, the other demons in the fake Good Place finally go on strike, led by Vicky, the “real Eleanor” from the first attempt (Tiya Sircar). She blackmails Michael to take over, but Chidi and Eleanor see a demon out of his human suit and realize they’re in the bad place. They flee to the Medium Place, where Mindy St. Claire (Maribeth Monroe) reveals that they’ve been over a dozen times before, but each time they return to the fake Good Place and get rebooted. She also reveals that Chidi and Eleanor almost always are together and once even said they loved each other, something neither of them has ever really done. However, in this timeline, they barely know each other.

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And Mindy has the illegal voyeur porn to prove it!

Michael talks with Jason, who accidentally convinces him to join the human team. As a condition of working with him, Eleanor insists that Michael also take ethics classes, something that doesn’t come naturally to a demon. Eventually, he starts to understand the concept and bond with them. Janet begins to malfunction, and it’s revealed that she’s still in love with Jason from the first reboot, when they got married. She attempts to get over him by creating a rebound guy named Derek (Jason “How did this get made” Mantzoukas), but eventually is forced to realize that she has to deal with her feelings, something no previous Janet has ever really had (Janets become smarter every time they’re rebooted, and she’s been rebooted the most by a lot).

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Derek doesn’t quite have a “working” brain.

Shawn returns and ends the fake Good Place, believing that it was a massive success and promises Michael a promotion. Michael betrays Shawn, however, and sides with the humans and helps them avoid going to the real Bad Place. Instead, they sneak through the Bad Place and head to meet the inter-dimensional judge who rules over all the matters of good and evil, Judge “Gen” Hydrogen (Maya F*CKING Rudolph). The Judge gives each of the four a test of their growth, but only Eleanor passes. She tells the others that she failed because they’d agreed to all go to the Bad Place if anyone failed.

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She’s so wonderful.

At the last minute, Michael arrives and intervenes, convincing Gen that, since people can become better by working at it, they should give each of the four another shot on Earth and see if they get better. Eleanor goes back to the moment of her death, is saved by Michael, and resolves to become a better person. However, after it proves difficult, she starts to backslide. Michael pretends to be a bartender (because he’s Ted Danson) and asks her a question: “What do we owe each other?” She Googles this question and finds a lecture series by Chidi, leading her to fly to Australia to meet with him, ending the season.

END SUMMARY

Okay, do you see how long that summary was? That’s me condensing the hell out of this season. So much happens that I had to double check that each episode, aside from the first one, is only 22 minutes long. Granted, there are less actual discussions about philosophy in this season, because most of it is just so packed, but they still have several episodes dedicated to it, including an episode called “The Trolley Problem” which is about… well, the Trolley Problem. If you want to find out about that, my Grouchy counterpart wrote some crap on it. The season addresses the concept of moral absolutes and moral relativism, existential crises, whether utilitarianism or deontology is better for deciding a course of action, and whether or not throwing a Molotov cocktail is actually a solution to anything. If you didn’t understand any of those things, this show will explain them to you better than I can, and will do them in hilariously entertaining ways that don’t even feel like you’re learning (that way it doesn’t hurt).

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The Trolley Problem: Now with squishy balloons of organs and blood and bone! 

The structure of good and evil within the show is also elaborated upon and it is so interesting and yet relatable. Is it wrong for a person to innocuously start a really annoying trend, like a waiter seeing an empty plate and saying “I see you hated it?” Is it okay to murder someone if your intent is solely to make someone else’s life better? Are burritos better when coated with a dash of envy? I didn’t even know I needed the answer to some of these.

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Respect. The. Burrito.

The main thing about this season is that it feels like a very different show, while still being almost the same at its emotional core. The characters still relate to each other much the same ways they did during the last season, even if the background behind their connections has changed. They’re going through different challenges, however, and those struggles don’t feel at all like the things they were dealing with in the last season. Then, several episodes even change the setting and the stakes, making a lot of the actions feel more urgent than they were before. It’s a great ramp-up to the finale, which, itself, changes the show’s framework. This isn’t a show where the characters stay the same, they grow and change and the show changes so that it continues to make sense. Brilliant storytelling.

The acting and writing in this season is just as good, if not better, than the last one, so see yesterday’s review if you want to know my opinions on that (hint: GREAT!). Some notable additions are Jason Mantzoukas as Derek, the fake rebound guy that Janet builds, Dax Shepard as Chet, the demon who tortures people with toxic masculinity, and Maya Rudolph as Judge Gen. Mantzoukas plays a character who literally doesn’t follow any laws of human development, since he was spontaneously created, which he somehow pulls off, never seeming even close to a regular person in the funniest way possible. Shepard doesn’t get a huge role, but, like Adam Scott in season 1, he portrays a hilariously douchey take on the traditional demon idea, being not an old-school evil figure, but a more modern version of dickish evil. And Maya Rudolph is Maya f*cking Rudolph, if you need more than that, I advise you to go watch anything Maya Rudolph is in, particularly Idiocracy. She’s amazing and you should pay respect to her.

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Also, Carden as “Bad Janet” and “Bad Good Janet” are amazing.

Overall, when this season ended I was just pissed off that I was going to have to wait a year to watch the next one. If that’s not a sign of quality television, I don’t know what is. The next season starts this month on NBC, so get caught up and watch, people.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.